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Some very active humpback whales, plenty of dolphins, a couple of Minke whales and a lethargic Mola.

Image: vertical lunge-feeding humpback whale.

2023 07-02 SB Channel

Captain Devin reports thick fog near the coast, lifting to a high stratus layer as we headed southeast and left Platform Habitat in our wake. Sightings were off the charts again today: 2000 long-beaked common dolphins, 2 Minke whales, 6+ humpback whales and 1 ocean sunfish (Mola mola).

Just 2 miles outbound from Santa Barbara Harbor we had good, quick looks at a pair of sleek Minke whales. They were moving fast and we chose not to persue them. We continued southeast and soon found our first humpback whale. It was a large adult in transit mode. We had good looks and continued on our course.

Soon we found a trio of humpbacks. Although they, too seemed to be in transit, they did surface from a dive pretty close to the Condor Express. We had not moved far when people thought they were seeing a “dead ocean sunfish (Mola mola), laying flat on its side, on the surface. It was, however, quite healthy and woke up from its rest to dive slowly out of our view.

A mega pod of common dolphins was heading north (approximately 180° from our previous heading). We fell in alongside and watched them. The pod soon came into a hot spot full of feeding seabirds and 3 more humpback whales. The threesome began a long series of very high and dramatic surface lunges (see today’s image for an example). There was a bit of sideways lunging, trumpet vocalization and some lazy rolling around, too.

On the way home we encountered a single friendly and active juvenile humpback. It mugged the Condor Express several times and, as we attempted to slowly motor out of the area, it let loose a spectacular full-body breach amidships.

You never know what mother nature has in store.

Bob Perry

Condor Express, and

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